Dem Rep Apologizes For Calling Israel ‘Racist’ After Party Leadership Condemns Her Comments

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Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington apologized Sunday after House Democrats criticized her comments calling Israel “racist,” according to a statement.

Jayapal had been attending a Netroots Nation conference in Chicago over the weekend but her panel was interrupted by Palestinian protesters, and she told them that, in her opinion, the Jewish state was “racist,” according to CNN. Her comments were condemned by House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic Whip Katherine Clark, Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar and Vice Chair Ted Lieu, prompting her to offer the apology Sunday, according to a press release. (RELATED: Jury Rules Synagogue Mass Shooter Is Eligible For Death Penalty)

“At a conference, I attempted to defuse a tense situation during a panel where fellow members of Congress were being protested. Words do matter and so it is important that I clarify my statement,” Jayapal said in the press release. “I do not believe the idea of Israel as a nation is racist. I do, however, believe that Netanyahu’s extreme right-wing government has engaged in discriminatory and outright racist policies and that there are extreme racists driving that policy within the leadership of the current government.”

A man holds a "Free Palestine" sign during a demonstration in support of Palestine in Brooklyn, New York on May 15, 2021.

TOPSHOT – A man holds a “Free Palestine” sign during a demonstration in support of Palestine in Brooklyn, New York on May 15, 2021. (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

Jefferies issued a statement Sunday following the remarks at the conference, saying that “Israel is not a racist state…[but] there are individual members of the current Israeli governing coalition with whom we strongly disagree,” according to Reuters.

Despite the apology, Jayapal blasted Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, claiming “his government” was furthering “discriminatory and outright racist policies,” according to the press release. She criticized the Israeli government’s decision to allow Jews to settle in certain parts of the West Bank but argued that she had always worked to help create a “two-state solution” for both Israelis and Palestinians.

“On a very human level, I was also responding to the deep pain and hopelessness that exists for Palestinians and their diaspora communities when it comes to this debate, but I in no way intended to deny the deep pain and hurt of Israelis and their Jewish diaspora community that still reels from the trauma of pogroms and persecution, the Holocaust, and continuing anti-semitism and hate violence that is rampant today,” Jayapal said.

In 2021, House Democrats issued a resolution condemning Jayapal’s comments that appeared to defend the terrorist organization Hamas, which is responsible for a multitude of attacks against Israel. The comments came after a bloody exchange of fire took place between Israel and Hamas in May of 2021.

Jayapal appeared on CNN, saying that while she condemned Hamas firing rockets at the Jewish state “you have to look at what prompted even that behavior.”

“This has been a pattern of action from Israel that frankly has taken away the idea even of a two-state solution, and has led to increased hopelessness from the Palestinian people,” Payapal said. “I think what Hamas has done is—obviously we condemn that—but we have to look at the power balance here, or imbalance as it were, and we have to put more responsibility on Israel in maintaining peace in the region.”

The resolution condemned her comments as antisemitic and “hateful misinformation.”

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